MATCHS DU JOUR 1
The announcement of the administrative steps to offer French nationality to Joel Embiid causes strong reactions in his native Cameroon. And even in France where he has been courted for years, voices are raised to contest his possible arrival at the Blue basketball.
Joel Embiid was a dream come true to play for the Cameroonian senior national basketball team. But since May 3, Cameroonians have realized that it will never happen. According to information from RMC Sport, the 76ers' pivot "has started the administrative process to obtain French nationality and play with the French team.
In Cameroon, the African country where Joel Embiid was born, the news has caused great disappointment among his fans. "Joel Embiid is no longer part of the family. He is a traitor, like all those sportsmen who have turned their backs on our country," says Arnaud, 26.
Dejected, many Cameroonians have resolved to stop watching the NBA star's games. "I regret having spent many sleepless nights in my living room, applauding and chanting his name during the games of the Philadelphia 76ers. He's definitely out of my heart," Emma whispers breathlessly.
"He is a traitor
In Yaounde, capital of the country of the Indomitable Lions, what angers the opinion is that in 2018, Embiid had clearly suggested that his priority is Cameroon. "I love my country [Cameroon], I am patriotic. I want to play for my country. If I have a choice to make, it will be Cameroon first, if there is a good framework, because that's where I come from," explained the Douala native. All that talk was just talk," smiled Brice, a street vendor. Embiid fooled us.
I am shocked," Yves Tsala, an official of the Cameroonian Basketball Federation, told RFI. '' It would be more rewarding for him to take up a challenge with Cameroon, which has never participated in the World Cup or the Olympics, than to go to a French team that is capable of winning everything without him.''
Embiid unwanted by Les Bleus
''When your name is Joel Embiid, you don't have to beg to play for the French team," said Billy Houto, a Cameroonian sports analyst. Embiid is calculating; he wants to win a trophy with a national team and he thinks he will have better luck with France. The problem is that Joel Embiid is (practically) unwanted by Les Bleus.
"There is the sporting side and the ethical side. I speak for myself, but I think there are many people in the [French] team who think the same: we would not like Embiid to come to the team because he does not represent France, our France in quotes - I said in quotes. He wasn't trained in France, he has nothing French about him apart from his family and the fact that he speaks French. He has never played in France," said Andrew Albicy, 74 caps for France, speaking to First Team.
"We can go really far with this team without having to go and get an American, a Cameroonian or someone else to win the world title. And above all, with the ego of the guys in the team, I can tell you that they think the same as me, that's for sure," the Gran Canaria point guard added. Joel Embiid's naturalization has always been a "disturbing" topic for many French basketball players. In 2018 already, Tony Parker was against the idea of seeing the five-time All-Star in the tricolour jersey. "In the national team, we should play with the players of the country, who grew up there," he said.
In the face of all this outcry, the father of the Sixers pivot reacted on Wednesday on the air of RFI. Thomas Embiid was keen to calm the game: "Joel has not engaged in naturalization procedures, it is the French authorities who came to him. Embiid senior said his son will explain once the series between the Heat and Sixers is over.